Reclaiming death metal: Drawn And Quartered/Centurian

school_of_death_WEB

It is an indictment of the metal climate today that albums of the caliber of Feeding Hell’s Furnace and Contra Rationem have gone mostly unnoticed amidst the never-ending flux of Incantation copycats, pretentious occultists that mistake C-grade horror movie atmosphere for competent songwriting, and war metal guidos. Bands today are content to lift surface aesthetics without adequate contemplation of what went into making the originals such path-setters. There are competent musicians – or should we call them technicians instead? – all around, no doubt, but one wonders how the overwhelming absence of any real meaning to their music forever escapes them. The lack of discrimination from fans only serves to make this a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle.

This is not to suggest that every death metal band from the old days consciously tapped into higher-plane abstractions. Some may have been simply out to make a loud noise, as is always the case with impetuous youth. But many also displayed an innate, elegantly expressed understanding of the true nature of death metal. Death metal, as seen through their eyes, was the assembling of order from chaos, but also, through the lyrics’ active confrontation with the matter of life and death, a harbinger and a celebration of the coming dissolution and the return to primordial nothingness. In realizing this duality in all existence, death metal looked to escape artificial constraints, even actively sought razing them to the ground and embracing mortality as liberation through themes of Satan and gore. In an era when distractions were relatively fewer in number than what they are today, death metal musicians may have had more time to ponder over these matters and to care more intimately about how the music they were creating tied in with their greater worldview.

contra rationem centurian

Drawn and Quartered, and Centurian, veterans from opposite sides of the Atlantic, remind us of what death metal should have always been. Centurian are influenced in equal parts by the bludgeoning power of post-Legion Deicide and the middle era Morbid Angel-inspired Polish school of blasting death metal that isn’t without a sense of groove. Riffs are adamantly symmetrical in nature, with each phrase having its mirror complement to make up the whole of any one arrangement. While this introduces an air of predictability to progressions on a micro-level, much like the bulk of Krisiun‘s music for instance, songs – and these are songs in the real sense of the word – have a full, breathing, roundness to them. There are no loose threads to be found here; Contra Rationem is a classic example of death metal in tension and release.

feeding hell's furnace

Drawn And Quartered‘s sound has seen a few changes over the last twenty years. Starting off as a darker variant of Cannibal Corpse, then gradually incorporating more Immolation-style twisted dissonance in songwriting, Feeding Hell’s Furnace represents the most mature effort by this underrated band yet. Drawn And Quartered are firmly placed in the dark death metal camp of North America. Song tempos are more varied than ever before, and a noticeable, slow-burning Incantation influence has slid into the band’s writing but such is the control over dynamics and atmosphere on display here that the attentive listener will not mistake it for just another clone. Drawn And Quartered take their place among old bands like Imprecation and Deteriorot still playing dark, majestic death metal that sounds the part without submitting to gimmicky bells and whistles.

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5 Responses to Reclaiming death metal: Drawn And Quartered/Centurian

  1. kvrdz says:

    An indictment indeed.It seems bands can’t seem to get a buzz going without gratuitous use of reverb, robes or faux fascist imagery.But having said that, i think it is a trend that is on the wane and will soon die out once everyone has had their fill of void worshiping, Kaos invoking okkvltism.
    What do you think of the new GS track? it did absolutely nothing for me, the laughably contrived song titles don’t help very much either.

  2. Genocide Shrines? Crap, try-hard band.

  3. kvrdz says:

    Yes, you really ought take a look at the song titles of the new album if you haven’t already.
    Will you be reviewing the Dying embrace split anytime soon?
    The DE side seems very tame to me.

    • DE have always been a very tame band. And not just because they call themselves doom. You can sense them trying to be energetic every now and then but it always falls flat. I’m not sure of writing about it; I’m kind of done with that whole scene. They cater to a different audience and a different mindset. I write about that rot eating metal from the inside often enough as it is so no point in singling these bands out again and again.

  4. gk says:

    Mmissed this post first time around. I really like Choronzonic Chaos Gods and Liber Zar Zax and this new one was quite a pleasant surprise. Pity it didn’t get a lot of attention though.

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